PEMBROKE, Mass. — You put out a “Help Wanted” ad, and several people apply. You offer the job to the best candidate, but he turns you down. So you hire the second-best candidate, and she agrees to come to work. Or, worse, the applicant agrees to come to work with a bad attitude. Does this scenario happen often? Then maybe you aren’t doing the full interviewing job.
Interviewing a job candidate also means “selling” him or her on the company and offer. I think dry cleaners often forget about this part of the task, confident the person will accept if he/she needs a job and has no other offers.
It is vitally important that you sell the job. Certainly, we’re in a tough labor market—6.5% unemployment at this writing, minimal pay raises, fewer benefits—but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to be convincing about why your company would be a good place to work.
Let’s face it. A dry cleaner is not considered a cool place to work. Cleaning clothes is not considered important. The work is low-tech. The plant is too hot most of the year. Customers can be difficult. Few young people will tell you that they “always wanted to work in the drycleaning industry.”
So, you must show the candidate why he would like the work. Create reasons why she would choose your company. Overcome the lack of enthusiasm for working in dry cleaning.
Discuss the role that clothing plays in creating appearances, and appearance is important.
“No one wants to look like a slob,” you say during the interview. “Everyone wants to put his best foot forward. People want to feel like a million bucks in their clothes. That’s why our customers are fussy. We understand the concern. Never turn your nose down at dry cleaning. It’s probably doing more for people’s egos than anything else.”
Play up the “family dynamic” common to small businesses.
“We’re family here. Sure, we’re a diverse group of people. There are all sorts of people working here, from Native Americans to Brazilian immigrants. There are others who made mistakes early in life. There’s a college graduate with two degrees. There’s a grandfather with 12 grandchildren. We sometimes bicker, but at the end of the day, we go home friends. There’s pride, trust, a feeling of being part of something bigger than yourself. We stick together.”
Lastly, describe the opportunities that exist in your business for someone willing to dedicate themselves to it.
“While you’re starting on the bottom rung, if you’re good, if you pay attention, you’ll rise in the organization. We’re always looking for new drop store locations, and drop store managers do well. There’s a plant manager who, between you and me, makes really good money. And someday, I’ll be selling this place. How would you like to own a million-dollar business? It’s possible.
“So, don’t dismiss this opportunity as just a ‘dumb job.’ If I call you up and offer you the position, you’ll be part of this company: a firm moving forward, talking care of needs and, yes, making money. You’ll be part of small-business enterprise, and that’s the backbone of America.”
Think this is a little long-winded? Then shorten the spiel. Add your own twist. Make it relevant to your unique situation.
If you are a small dry cleaner, then the future opportunities probably are minimal. Instead, stress the family nature of your operation. Talk about favors that your workers do for one another, such as sharing apartments, lending cars, helping with babysitting, etc. Point out the many friendships that have emerged from working together.
Second, make it relevant to the individual. If the candidate is an eager beaver, emphasize the opportunity. If the candidate looks like she needs friends, emphasize the pleasures of working with a group of people who are all focused on common goals. If the candidate is mechanically inclined, point out how useful his skills will be.
Third, be selective. If you interview 10 people, don’t give the spiel to everyone. If you determine that an individual is not a good candidate, then thank him/her for the time and move on. For those you like, make the pitch of what you have to offer.
After all, someone has to brag about the industry. It might as well be you. And it might as well be at the most opportune time: when trying to land a good applicant so you can continue to build your drycleaning business.
Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.